Our family history wiki in 2012

Here are some statistics for our Family History Wiki in 2012.

The pages that had the most visitors were:

  1. 2184 – Jessie Koch, formerly Falkenberg, born Schultz
  2. 2063 – Morton family
  3. 1974 – Home Page
  4. 1815 – Alfred William Green discussion (bit of a mystery this)
  5. 1638 – Vause family
  6. 1555 – Frederick Thomas Green
  7. 1501 – Bagot family

It is a bit of a mystery why 1815 people (that’s nearly five people a day) should be drawn to a page for discussing Alfred William Green, but then completely fail to discuss him when they get there. By contrast, only 130 people visited the page that actually has information about Alfred William Green.

Jessie Schultz was Val’s great great grand mother, who came to South Africa from Germany in 1858, and it would be nice to know if any of the people who visited her page are related to us, but none of them is saying.

Here are some more general statistics for the site as a whole, and, sadly, they seem to indicate that collaborative family history research is not very popular:


That’s quite a lot of visitors, but the emptiness of the “Messages” section shows that the feedback is almost zero, which is why the edits are relatively few. If few people respond, there is little  motivation to add to the information.

So I’m still a bit disappointed. I thought the wiki format was ideal for family participation, and that other members of the family could help to contribute to information, especially with family stories and biographical information.

I hoped that some cousins might start their own wikis, where the relations we have in common could be linked across two wikis, and then their own wiki could branch out to the unlinked families on their side of the family. In that way we could have a whole network of interlinked family wikis. But somehow it has never reached critical mass, and never taken off.

But maybe this year will be different.

Would it be too much to hope for — that we could have one linked family wiki a month? Or even a quarter? Or perhaps even one for the whole year? It’s quite easy to start one on Wikispaces, but it doesn’t even have to be there, there are other wiki sites as well.

Is it worth it?

About 18 months ago I started a Family Wiki. It seemed a good way of doing collaborative genealogy, and sharing family stories and information. A blog like this is quite a good way of recording progress, but current posts soon pass into history and are more difficult to find. A Wiki accumulates information as people add to information correct it and discuss it.

But so far only one other person has contributed anything to our family Wiki. Over the last month it has had about 15 visitors a day, with about 25 page views, but hardly anyone, other than me, has contributed anything, or even commented on what is there, or said whether they have found it useful.

Page Views
home 109
Green_family 40
Sandercock Family 29
GreenMAA935 27
Growdon_Family 27
Index_of_People 26
Family index 24
Ahnentafel 23
GreenawayR2405 22
GreeneFT144 22
space.discussion.GreenAW1194 22
Beningfield_Family 21
Brathwaite_Family 20

The Beningfield, Brathwaite, Green, Greenaway, Growden and Sandercock pages all got 20 or more visits during September, but nothing in the way of comments or contributions.

As a result of this, I’ve stopped trying to add to these Wiki pages — there just doesn’t seem to be much point. I occasionally post a small correction to what is already there, but it doesn’t seem to be worth the effort to add much.

What I hoped might happen is that at least some people related in any of these family lines might contribute information on the people they were related to, and possibly start their own family wikis for other branches of their families not related to ours, so that we could then have links between common relations, and contribute to each other’s stories. But it seems that few are interested in such collaboration. And unfortunately there are too many who just grab what information they can from any source, but aren’t willing to give anything in return. As a result I’ve become a little reluctant to give family history information to others unless they show that they are willing to share what they know as well.

Of course it’s possible that most of the people who look at the Wiki pages are not related — most visitors seem to be from the USA, whereas most of our families are in South Africa, the UK, Australia and Canada.

Family WikiSpaces

You may have heard of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, which is one of the most useful sources of information on the Internet.

Now we have started a family history Wiki on Wikispaces, and we invite all members of the family to have a look at it and join it.

The Hayes and Green family history space

This WikiSpace, called “hayesgreene” is for members of the Hayes, Greene and related families to post family news, history and anecdotes, and to make contact with other members of the family, and learn about the family history.

Who is it for?

It’s for any members of our families, that is, anyone who is related to us in any way. That means, in the first place, anyone descended from any of our ancestors — uncles, aunts and cousins. That includes 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, up to and beyond 15th cousins seven times removed, and their spouses, parents of spouses and children of spouses.

Who are we?

We are Steve and Val Hayes, and we live in Pretoria, Tshwane, Gauteng, South Africa. You can find out more about who we are on our family web pages, and also on our blog (which you’re reading now!)

How do I participate?

You participate by clicking on “join this space”, which you will find somewhere on the left (not here, but in the WikiSpace page). If you are already a member of WikiSpaces, your application will be sent to us. If you are not already a member of WikiSpaces you will be invited to join (and then you can create your own WikiSpaces as well). When we receive your application, we will check to see whether you are related to us in any way, and if you are, your application will be approved and you will be able to add to and edit the information on these pages. But even if you are not related, you can still read the pages.

How does this compare with a blog?

A blog is for changing information that quickly gets out of date. While you can find old blog posts, you have to search for them, and they are not always easy to find. A family history blog can be good as a record of new information found, meetings with family members, reports of family reunions and so on.

What a blog is not so good for is things like anecdotes by and ancestors, biographies, research problems and dead-ends and so on. Updating biographical information on a two-year-old blog post is not much use, because few people will know that it has been updated, and so few will read it. But in a Wiki such information can be updated and added to as more information is found, and it can be found much more easily.

So, if you are related, go and look at the HayesGreene Wikispace, and think of stuff you can add. There’s not much there yet, but there will soon be if we all get working on it.